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IPIECA’s multi-disciplinary Water Working Group, established in 2008, aims to improve understanding of how and why water is an important resource along the oil and gas supply chain. This includes producing guidelines for upstream fresh water management, promoting greater consistency in identification of water risk at the global and local scale, sharing good practice, and promoting consistent freshwater reporting.

For more information contact the Secretariat.

The Issue IPIECA activities Member actions

The issue

Water is an increasingly important environmental and social issue. Unequal distribution, increased use for energy and manufacturing purposes as well as population growth make water risk and supply management a key area of focus for IPIECA and the Water Working Group.

Water is essential in human development – from the freshwater needs of individuals and ecosystems to the demands of agriculture and industry. With population growth and continuing economic development, demand on limited fresh water supplies is likely to intensify. Issues and impacts of water on the Oil and Gas sector have been gaining prominence in recent times. Water is an important resource for all oil and gas operations. As demand for water increases and the quality and supply of the resource is threatened, the need for effective freshwater management along the supply chain is essential.

The public is becoming more aware of the limitations on fresh water supply and increasing demand, with the concerns around water quality and quantity becoming more pronounced. The prominence of these issues is seen by the fact that both the Millennium Development Goals and the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development call for greater access to clean fresh water, improvements in sanitation, and integrated plans for the development of this universal resource. Additionally, the nexus between energy and water is also gaining significance as developed and developing countries look to increase energy supplies which require greater access to sources of fresh water.

IPIECA activities

IPIECA has maintained a watching brief on the issue of water since 2000 and continues to actively work on this issue through various work groups and, as necessary, by forming task forces populated by members from the relevant IPIECA Working Groups to address specific needs.

The Water Working Group is currently working on:

  • Developing water risk assessment tools to help companies identify their portfolio level water risks as well as their site level water risks;
  • Promoting IPIECA's Water Management Framework and developing guidance on implementing good practice in water management for the oil and gas sector;
  • Assessing and responding to emerging trends and stakeholder expectations in the water arena; and
  • Proactively communicating industry messages in annual reports and ensuring consistent and comparable water reporting.


Member action

The oil industry is using its practical and technological expertise to explore ways to decrease demands on scarce freshwater supplies and encourage procedures to conserve, recycle and reuse water. In some cases, the industry is exploring the use of reclaimed wastewater or low quality water in the industrial process – utilizing less fresh water. The industry is also reducing its impact by monitoring and reporting discharges and, through continually improving, the storage, handling and transportation of all products – further reducing the possibility of marine or groundwater contamination. Further guidance is currently being developed by IPIECA, please see the 'Operations and fuels section' of our website for more details. IPIECA has also produced water management good practice guidelines, these are illustrated by a number of company case studies.